May 1, 2023

Tread lightly and give back: 8 environmentally responsible activities you can do in Maui Nui

Exploring Maui Nui’s great outdoors with a green conscience is effortless and infinitely rewarding. The Hawaiian Islands are an ecological treasure unmatched anywhere on Earth and the planet’s most isolated archipelago. And as with each of Hawai‘i’s eight main islands, the nature-crafted diversity of land, ocean and life on Maui Nui (the islands of Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and Kaho‘olawe, collectively) has contributed greatly to much that is distinctive and visually captivating about it, drawing scores of visitors from around the world each year. However, growth in Hawai‘i’s resident and visitor population places our unique and, ultimately, fragile environmental diversity and natural resources at great risk. Whether you’ve visited the islands of Maui Nui often and wish to mКlama (care for) them, or are planning your first visit and simply wish to make a difference in their ecological wellbeing, each offers multiple outdoor activities and volunteer opportunities allowing all of us to pay it forward environmentally and tread the ‘Кina (land) responsibly while preserving, protecting and enjoying its sumptuous natural world. Here are eight Maui Nui activities that will allow you to do some good or just be good in nature.

1. Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter Ocean Protection Projects

The Maui chapter of the Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide network of coastal defenders welcomes visitors and residents looking to volunteer locally in the protection and preservation of the island’s beaches, coastlines and offshore waters. Beach cleanups clearing plastic pollution, trash and marine debris from shorelines, and keeping waters clean, are scheduled regularly. Foundation organizers provide gloves, debris bags, tools (garbage grabber, net cutters, sand sifters, etc.), water and, oftentimes, lunch for volunteers. No reservations are needed. Just check the beach cleanup schedule on the Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter website and show up. A bonus? Occasionally getting to see and explore lesser-known Maui beaches during cleanups. Visit

2. Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond Restoration Volunteer Days

Ko‘ie‘ie is a loko kuapК (walled-style fishpond) constructed by Hawaiian residents of what is now

Maui’s Kīhei area some 500 to 600 years ago. Once numerous along the coastlines of the Hawaiian Islands and, in their time, among humankind’s most advanced aquaculture systems, rare intact loko i‘a (Hawaiian fishponds) like Ko‘ie’ie are now actively being restored by communities statewide. Since 1996, nonprofit ‘Ao‘ao O Nā Loko I‘a O Maui has been diligently restoring Ko‘ie‘ie’s lava rock seawall with volunteer help on community workdays. The work is tough and getting wet is required, but you’ll be supporting the nonprofit’s mission of finishing seawall restoration and utilizing the fishpond as an outdoor marine and cultural classroom. Visit

3. Hiking the NК Ala Hele Trail System on Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i

Making sure your hikes are environmentally low-impact and legal (i.e. on public, not private,

watershed or reserve lands) is a simple, enjoyable way of being good in and giving back to Maui Nui’s great outdoors. Its three visitable islands boast more than 22 hiking trails (20 on Maui, and one each on Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i) managed by the NК Ala Hele trail and land access system, established in 1988 to ensure safe public access and passage through state-owned natural areas. Within Maui Nui, they range from multiple rainforest hikes on Maui’s HaleakalК volcano and an early Hawaiian coastal fishing trail on LКna‘i, to the windswept Waikolu Canyon lookout hike on Molokai and forest-to-ridge hikes of the West Maui Mountains, for both novice and expert hikers. Visit

4. Pacific Whale Foundation Volunteer on Vacation Program

You won’t actually be volunteering with Hawai‘i’s massive winter mammalian visitors if you sign up for this Maui ocean conservation, research and education organization’s community service project program. You will, however, make a difference on Maui terra firma, joining with the foundation’s partner environmental stewardship organizations (including the National Park Service and Hawaiian Islands Land Trust) in everything from clearing invasive plant species from HaleakalК National Park forests and Honokōwai Valley archaeological sites, to removing detritus from Maui sand dunes, coastal trails and beaches. You’ll also learn about each location’s wildlife, ecology and Hawaiian cultural history, visiting sights few experience the same way. Visit

5. Friends of Haleakalā National Park Outdoor Volunteer Projects

Painting and refreshing cabins in the most remote areas of Maui’s Haleakala National Park, and

improving the nesting and living habitats of the volcano’s growing population of native nēnē geese. Reintroducing native tree seedlings and plants to HaleakalК forests and clearing invasive flora. From the 33,265-acre park’s rain-forested sea level Kīpahulu section to its above-the-clouds 10,023-foot elevation summit cinder dessert. If you’re resilient enough to take on the hardy, no-nonsense rain or shine, warm or cold weather hike-and-work days of this volunteer-driven park-supporting nonprofit, your help will be appreciated. Just remember, no whining allowed. Visit

6. Nature Conservancy Guided Hike and Volunteer Days in Maui Nui Nature Preserves

The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i leads several guided daylong hikes and volunteer fieldwork

opportunities in pristine areas of Maui Nui it manages and protects, otherwise closed to the public. On Moloka‘i, the conservancy leads small-group hikes monthly to Kamakou Preserve, a biologically diverse, misty mountain rainforest and bog, as well as expansive and rare sand dune and coastal ecosystem Mo‘omomi Preserve. Quarterly volunteer workdays in high-elevation HaleakalК volcano rainforest sanctuary Waikamoi Preserve on Maui remove invasive weeds from the 8,951-acre home to multiple native Hawai‘i flora and a dozen native bird species, many endangered. And an interpretive trail self guides Lāna‘i hikers through the conservancy’s 590-acre KКnepu‘u Preserve, one of the last expansive examples of native dryland forests in Hawai‘i. Visit

7. Sierra Club of Hawai‘i Beach Cleanups and Restoration Projects

Group hikes and volunteer work days in Maui’s scenic wilds are scheduled often by the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i. From short hikes to the Pa‘uwela lighthouse tidepools and into the Makawao Forest Reserve, to Waihe‘e coastal dunes family hikes, to longer treks into Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui Mountains) and evening stargazing in Waikapū, group leaders cover an impressive amount of island acreage while also sharing the history and science of visited areas. However, if you’re looking to really assist Sierra Club with its extensive Hawai‘i ecosystem preservation work, day and weeklong service trips throughout the year offer a diversity of projects to choose from, including maintenance of cultural sites in Ha‘ikū’s rainforests, mapping early Hawaiian stepping-stone trails in Wailea, documenting native dryland forest flowering plants in Palauea, and more. Visit

8. Moloka‘i Land Trust Preserve Work Projects

The nonprofit Moloka‘i Land Trust concentrates its mission of protecting and restoring the natural resources of its namesake island at three land preserves it stewards: Mo‘omomi Preserve, mentioned above and one of the last remaining untouched natural fortresses for a select group Hawai‘i native coastal flora and fauna; Kawaikapu Preserve, an upland remnant native forest being restored to its former natural glory; and Mokio Preserve, whose five miles of unsullied shoreline includes dune ecosystems, seasonal wetlands and an adze quarry, fishing shrine and housing complexes constructed by early Hawaiians. Sign up for one of the trust’s volunteer work days and you’ll not only get your hands dirty with preserve work, but learn from group leaders about the land, its history and resources, and the long-term, positive impacts of your work. Visit